Harry Karlinsky comes across a name in the London Asylum records which piques his interest. Thomas Darwin. Was he any relation to Charles? He delves deeper into the records and discovers the story of the youngest son, a quiet man who had an obsession with cutlery which slowly drove him insane.
It’s an odd little book. The cover has the word “novel” in a small font and the author’s note acknowledges that it’s fiction but it is otherwise introduced and written as a historical biography. Thomas’ life is intertwined with that of Charles Darwin and it becomes difficult to separate fact from fiction, something that is both charming and infuriating, depending on your outlook. It is certainly a unique way to write historical fiction.
I rather liked his theory of evolution of cutlery, there is a lot of sense to it, except for when he starts to become a bit “peculiar” as the editor of Nature kindly put it.
The style is not dissimilar to that of Charles Darwin’s works and there are a number of letters, articles and illustrations throughout like the collected works of one man’s research. It is not told in chronological order, instead divided into sections for his personal life, his work and his illness, much like a real biography.
I really can’t decide if this is genius or not. If you’re looking for well rounded characters and a gripping plot, keep looking. However, if you’re interested in unique ways of story telling or even just Darwinism, give this a try. I think it might bring a smile to your face.
The Evolution of Inanimate also wins the award for best barcode. Admittedly, it didn’t have much competition but I still love it.
The Evolution of Inanimate Objects: The Life and Works of Thomas Darwin (1857-1879) is published by The Friday Project and is currently available in hardback and ebook formats. Thanks go to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.
Subscribe via Email
Somehow it's March already, here are 28 books hitting the shelves this month! https://t.co/xfhhuDSBIpFollow
Scully keeps stealing cauliflowers! This would not be weird if she stole other food items. But we can leave her wi… https://t.co/RgkyjAu6OaFollow
If you happen to be reading articles about Kazuo Ishiguro/Klara and the Sun having not read (or watched) Never Let… https://t.co/Sql7aCHQ6VFollow
Today he would become a god. His mother had told him so. The opening line may seem like something any mother would tell her son, but in the case of Serapio, his mother truly believes he will become the Crow God reborn. She blinds him,…
The day Bree gets accepted into an early college placement at UNC, is the day her mother dies. The last words they spoke were of anger. Unable to deal with her dad’s grief on top of her own, Bree goes ahead with the placement. Once…
Alex Stern does not belong at Yale. When she awakes as the sole survivor of a multiple homicide, presumed a drug deal gone wrong, she is given an unlikely offer. Come to Yale, join the House of Lethe and oversee the rituals of the other…
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor
Just let me dust off this blog thing, I have a review for you! One of my anticipated reads released during lockdown was the follow-up to An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. If you read that, of course will will be dying to know what happened to…